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Sandiganbayan dismisses criminal raps vs Aklan gov, wife

ILOILO CITY — For “unreasonable” delay in the gathering of evidence and filing of a complaint by the Ombudsman, the Sandiganbayan dismissed the criminal charges against Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores and his wife former mayor Lourdes Miraflores of Ibajay town in Aklan.

In a 12-page resolution promulgated on Nov. 14, the Sandiganbayan’s 2nd Division dismissed the complaint because it said the delay violated the couple’s constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases.

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The couple was charged with violating the Code of Conduct And Ethical Standards For Public Officials And Employees for allegedly failing to declare certain assets in their Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Networth (SALN) from Dec. 31, 2006 to Dec. 31, 2009.

Miraflores has denied the allegation saying there was no deliberate intent to conceal properties or assets in their SALNs.

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The Sandiganbayan on July 10, 2018, issued a warrant of arrest for the couple after it found a probable cause but they posted bail of P30,000 each for their temporary release.

But in its Nov. 14 resolution, the Sandiganbayan cited what it considered was the unreasonable delay in the conduct of preliminary investigation reaching three years, two months and 21 days from April 8, 2015, to June 29, 2018, when the information was filed before the court.

It also noted that the SALNs that were the subject of the case were available starting from 2007 to 2010.

“Such period spent on gathering evidence is unreasonable considering that the documents required to support their charges are readily available in the records of appropriate government agencies and private entities,” according to the resolution.

It dismissed the justification of the Ombudsman that the delay was due, among others, to the period given to the accused to file their joint counter-affidavits and position papers.

The Sandiganbayan said in its resolution that the Ombudsman failed to comply with the rules of procedure on the period of conducting a preliminary investigation of criminal complaints filed before the anti-graft court.

The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi and concurred with by Associate Justices Alex Quiroz, Reynaldo Cruz, and Lorifel Pahimna.

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In his dissenting opinion, Oscar Herrera Jr., 2nd Division chair, argued that there was no violation of the rights of the accused to the speedy disposition of cases.

“…Considering the circumstances related to the conduct of the preliminary investigation,…the period spent by the Office of the Ombudsman is reasonable and acceptable,” Herrera said.

He also pointed out that “data-gathering or fact-finding investigation prior to [the] filing of a complaint is not included in the determination of whether there was a violation of the right to speedy disposition of cases.”

Governor Miraflores is serving his fifth term as governor and is running for re-election in the May 2019 elections. He was governor of the province from 1995 to 2004 and representative of the lone congressional district of Aklan from 2004 to 2013.

Lourdes completed her third and last term as mayor in 2016 and was replaced by their son Jose Enrique Miraflores.

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TAGS: Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores, Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, Ibajay, Lourdes Miraflores, Ombudsman, SALN, Sandiganbayan, statement of assets and liabilities
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